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A powerful voice for the people of rural Scotland.

Dear All,

As you will by now know, our long-standing Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, has stepped down from his role to spend more time with his family.  Mr Lochhead has been very supportive of the Scottish Rural Parliament, having seen for himself the effectiveness of the Swedish version in strengthening the voice of rural communities.  He was a great champion for us in the Scottish Government and we wish him all the best for the future, and thank him for his support over the last three years.

The rural agenda has always cut across the portfolios of several Ministers, encompassing as it does so many different elements, from transport to housing to education and more, but the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs has taken the lead on rural issues. The new Cabinet appointed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week includes a Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, rather than for Rural Affairs. Other Cabinet Secretaries hold the portfolios for issues such as energy, climate change, European Structural Funds and land reform. It is of course encouraging to see Connectivity receiving such a high profile, and it will take some time for us to see how this changes impacts on rural policy. We will keep you updated.

Elections are always busy times for organisations such as ours, and we’ve been spending time too on developing our own Manifesto for rural Scotland. Our Manifesto will state the ambitions and needs of rural communities, uninhibited by any political affiliations. We have already held 32 events and have 26 events still to be held. If you haven’t already done so, we would encourage you to complete the survey online and to share it with friends and family: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/wearerural

I’m a keen advocate for rural connectivity and I am delighted that we are launching a working group to share experiences, identify problems and make positive recommendations for change to the current delivery programme. There is more information on this below, but I am keen to hear from any groups interested in this issue in rural Scotland. 

I hope you enjoy the rest of the newsletter and that we will hear from you at an event, or online, about what would be in your Manifesto for rural Scotland.  

Yours,

Amanda Burgauer
Chair

Rural Manifesto Events




Upcoming events - please spread the word!

Kirkwall- 21 May
Stromness- 23 May
Balintore- 23 May
Thurso- 25 May
Nairn- 25 May
Stornoway- 26 May
Tarbert- 28 May
Uist- 31 May
Golspie- 7 June
Inverurie- 8 June
Laurencekirk- 9 June

More events will be added to the website as they are confirmed. For more information on these events please see: http://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/events/

Consultation for community organisations


Following a number of requests, we have launched a parallel survey for organisations - whether local or national - to respond to our 'What would be in your Manifesto for rural Scotland?' consultation. You have until 14th June to respond, and we would love to hear from as many of you as possible even if you only have a few minutes to give us a quick overview.

You can respond here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/wearerural4


Broadband Working Group

This month we are forming a new broadband working group in order to tackle concerns regarding the delivery of superfast broadband to rural communities. Twenty broadband groups have responded to our invitation to participate in the working group so far; if  you are interested please contact our Chair, Amanda, by emailing amanda@scottishruralparliament.org.uk for more information.


Blogs

We have introduced a new section on our website for blogs, where we will be discussing different issues, and exploring the viewpoints of organisations and individuals.

Follow Emma Cooper, our National Coordinator, on her journey as she travels around rural Scotland attending the Rural Manifesto events and read about the issues that are important to those communities.

Consider how we can reform local democrcay with guest blogs from Cllr David O'Neill from COSLA, Robin McAlpine Director of Common Weal and the Electoral Reform Society.

You can find all blogs here.

We are recruiting!

We are seeking an experienced Volunteer Co-ordinator with leadership qualities to take forward an exciting and six-month new volunteering project to support our activities. Find out more here: http://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/volunteer-coordinator-vacancy/

Community Councils


A handy website and Facebook group by and for community councillors, aimed at helping community councillors around Scotland to talk to each other, has been launched:
http://www.scotlands-community-councillors.org.uk


Ofcom Digital Communications Review

Ofcom held a meeting last week for stakeholders to comment on and discuss their initial findings from their Digital Communications Review: http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2016/digital-comms-review-feb16/

Ofcom are seeking: a choice for consumers and businesses, reform of Openreach, better quality of service across the telecoms industry and better broadband and mobile coverage. Find out more here.

'Getting ready for investment' Roadshow


This is a series of free events in the Highlands and Islands throughout June which will be looking at:
• Social Investment in all its guises
• Community Share Offers and...
• Shared Ownership of renewable energy schemes.

All events are being hosted jointly through a partnership between Social Investment Scotland, Community Shares Scotland and Local Energy Scotland.

http://readyforinvestment.strikingly.com

Invitations to tender

Analysis Tender
 

We are inviting tenders for the analysis of data collected through the Manifesto events and online consultation. For more information see our news release.


CateringTender

We are inviting tenders to provide catering for the Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, taking place on the 6-8th October at the new Brechin Community Campus in Angus. Please visit our website to see the catering tender and kitchen specification.

Join Us! 
Become A Member Of Scottish Rural Action Today! 
To become a member of Scottish Rural Action, the body responsible for the Scottish Rural Parliament, follow the link below:

http://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/get-involved/

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